Passage Diary: Saint Martin to Panama (Day 7-9)

Good morning! We made it to Panama! Watch our arrival on YouTube here

These are the final entries of our Saint Martin to Panama passage diary…

Day 7

The wind disappeared, so we dropped the sails and started an engine at 6am. It felt like we had sailed into summer overnight- it was 85°F by breakfast! 

Ray dug out our spinnaker for a test flight- he hasn’t flown it since 2019, and I’ve never flown it. It took a while to sort out how to run the lines, but it was worth it once we got it up! What a beautiful head sail! It will be a valuable asset for our Pacific crossing.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough wind to keep moving, so we snuffed the sail and continued motoring. Having the engines on makes traveling by boat feel like just a mode of transportation. The excitement and awe of using the wind to move your home through the water disappears, replaced by the scent of diesel and the drone of a motor. We spent the rest of the day hiding from the sun and chatting. 

I was planning to cook up more of the Wahoo we caught on Day 3 for dinner, but during the preparation process, I dropped an open bag of rice on the floor- tiny grains flew everywhere! By the time I had cleaned it up, I had lost interest in making an elaborate meal. So, we had Mac and cheese with canned chili instead (Ray’s favorite). 😂 

We motored through the night with 1-3kn of wind. 

Day 8

Engines are still on; sails are still down. 

Sabado was exceptionally loud today, or maybe the combination of heat and the lack of wind has made us more irritable. The creaks of the furniture, the squeak of our worn-out spinnaker halyard, the whine of the fans… 

Relief came with the sunset. The temperature dropped, and our mood improved. We even caught two yellowfin tuna in the last hour of daylight! 

Ray cleaned the fish, and I packed the meat away before dark. I saw four shooting stars during my night watch shift. I wished for wind. 

Day 9

Our spirits were high as we raised the sails and turned the engines off first thing this morning. The air was crisp and- most importantly- moving. We had a steady breeze! Even with 1.5kn of current against us, we were going 7kn! The magic was back. We turned our favorite playlist on over the speakers and kicked back, marveling at our situation. We are sailing to Panama!! 

Somehow, the conditions made us immune to exhaustion. We both skipped our usual naps in exchange for more time at the helm or sitting in the bean bag chair, staring up at the sails. We had plenty of fish to eat, but we threw out the lines anyway, hoping to stock the freezer. 

As quickly as it came, it left. The wind dropped to 3kn later that afternoon, and Sabado reverted to being a motor boat. Luckily, we were in the home stretch! We spotted land shortly after and put a bottle of champagne in the fridge in anticipation of our arrival. 

We were enveloped by the scent of warm, wet dirt a few miles out. The smell of land is so pungent after an extended period offshore. We motored into our anchorage just before sunset, popped our champagne, and settled in for our first proper night’s rest since we left Saint Martin 9 days ago. 

We woke up the following morning to the sound of howler monkeys. Their loud, aggressive calls echoed throughout the calm, quiet anchorage. We would have loved to stay a few more nights, soaking it all in, but unfortunately, the area didn’t have a very good reputation in terms of safety. We never know how recent an armed boat robbery report needs to be to consider it an imminent threat, but we don’t like to take our chances, so we left after we finished our coffee. We motored over to Shelter Bay Marina, a popular destination for cruisers waiting to go through the canal. We’ll be here until our transit date, preparing the boat for our next adventure! 

I hope you had a great week. ❤️

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